Sounds impressive until you realize that Biden’s currently rocking two percent of the vote nationally in a Democratic primary involving Hillary and Elizabeth Warren. Speaking of which, Ben Carson against Hillary in North Carolina: Dead even at 44, which is two points better than Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee do against her.

The Romney/Carson last-men-standing primary debate before Super Tuesday will be epic, my friends.

Ben Carson leads the way for the Republicans with 19% to 15% for Jeb Bush, 14% each for Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee, 11% for Paul Ryan, 7% for Rick Perry, 5% each for Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, and 4% for Marco Rubio…

At least at this very early stage it looks like North Carolina will yet again be a swing state in 2016 if Clinton is indeed the Democrat nominee. She is very closely matched with all of her potential Republican opponents, leading Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie each by 2 points at 46/44 and 44/42 respectively, while tying Bush and Carson at 46% and 44% respectively. Those numbers show there isn’t a big electability difference between the Republican candidates at least at this point. We also tested Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren in head to head match ups with Bush and Carson, and they fare a good bit worse than Clinton. Biden trails Bush 47/42 and Carson 45/40, while Warren trails Bush 46/39 and Carson 44/37.

The fact that Carson is even registering in these polls, let alone leading them, is amazing. How’s he doing that? I’m tempted to say it’s because of his appearances on Fox News over the past year but Huckabee’s gotten a lot more airtime on FNC than Carson has and he’s a few points behind. There must be a strong grassroots effort there by the “Draft Ben Carson” PAC to drum up interest. That’s not surprising, if so — Vernon Robinson, the group’s political director, knows the state well as a NC native — but the fact that that grassroots outreach is working as well as it is does surprise me.

Now, you tell me. Who’s most likely to suffer from the Carson boomlet? Note the “very conservative” column:

gopnc

Ted Cruz at nine percent while Carson is at 18? Given that Jeb Bush(!) and Mike Huckabee(!!) are outpolling him among the same demographic, let’s chalk that up to “very conservative” voters merely not knowing Cruz well enough yet to form an opinion rather than actively passing him over. Still, though — they know Ben Carson well enough to form an opinion? Huh.

This caught my eye too. Which number jumps out?

bcage

The only candidate to register above 20 percent in any age group is Carson, who pulls a quarter of senior citizens. Presumably they’re a key target of the “Draft Ben Carson” group, which makes sense — Carson spends a lot of time talking about faith and opposing political correctness and there’s no age group more comprehensively socially conservative than seniors. Some of that support will fade as the rest of the field starts campaigning and other candidates land on voters’ radars, but again, it’s instructive to look at Huckabee here. He’s a known quantity, having run for president once before and spent years with his own show on Fox. There’s no major politician in the country who’s spent more effort polishing his brand as a social conservative. And yet Carson’s nearly 10 points ahead of him among a group that should be easy pickings for Huck. (Huckabee is second among senior citizens behind Carson, in fact.) I still think Carson’s a single-digit candidate when everything shakes out, but could he play spoiler for a more formidable social con in the race like Huck or Cruz? A few months ago I’d have said “no way.” Let’s revise that down now to “probably not.”

One more data point. Of the four GOP candidates polled — Carson, Huckabee, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie — only one of them has a favorable rating among fellow Republicans north of 65 percent. Ahem:

huck

Good lord. Mike Huckabee won the war on women, at least in North Carolina.

Here’s Carson reaching out to his would-be base in a segment last week for David Brody and CBN.